Flaming Lips frontman Wayne Coyne explained the song's meaning in the album's liner notes: "The subject of the song is the singer's regret about taking the attitude of 'not fighting' to an extreme - and by the end of the song realizes he's made a mistake and sometimes a person has no choice - as unpleasant as it may be... To surrender to every conflict without a challenge, he finds, is worse than getting beat up."
The melody is very similar to "Father And Son" by Cat Stevens. The Flaming Lips agreed to share the song's royalties with Stevens.
This was the theme song for the MTV cartoon 3 South, which ran for one season in 2002.
Wayne co-directed the music video with documentary filmmaker Bradley Beesley. He explained the concept in the band's video compilation VOID (Video Overview in Deceleration): "Group of teenagers tries to spur the rivals to fight. One refuses to be aggressive until he's pushed into a pile of horse poop - finally he finds a smelly, but non-violent weapon."
This was used on the TV shows Smallville ("Prodigal" - 2003) and Six Feet Under ("The Last Time" - 2002). It was also featured in the movies One More Time (2015) and Freaky Friday (2003).
This was also featured on The Flaming Lips 2003 EP Fight Test, which was nominated for the Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album (it lost to The White Stripes' Elephant).
Matt from Downers Grove, IlTotally Rocking Song, and 'Father and Son' is also good. Actually, Fight Test and Father and Son share a lot of similarities. "I don't know how a man decides what's right for his own life" sounds a lot like the choice the son had to make in the Cat Stevens song.